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ENGLAND Netball head coach Jess Thirlby believes familiar surroundings could prove crucial ahead of next year’s home 2022 Commonwealth Games, writes Oscar Maung-Haley.
With the games now just 365 days away, athletes from all over the world are set to descent upon Birmingham, in what promises to be a real summer festival of sport.
Last time out in 2018, England stunned medal favourites Australia to secure their first Commonwealth Games gold out on the Gold Coast.
And the Vitality Roses Head Coach believes that home-field advantage could have a massive impact upon her side’s chances of medal success.
“I was one of those fans in 2019 at a home World Cup so I saw and felt the difference that can make,” explained Thirlby.
“Our game against Jamaica was a great example of how much it can drive and motivate the team to get over the line in those crucial matches.
“I think it’s incredibly special and I’ve had so many conversations with players and staff that were around at that World Cup.
“I went to the home Commonwealth Games in 2002 as part of the team in Manchester and I can remember how special and unique it was to be able to walk out.
“We’re really looking forward to taking that challenge on.”
The summer of 2020 sporting action has brought communities together like no other.
The belated events of Euro 2020 and the Olympics Games in Tokyo have put sport at the forefront of people’s minds across the nation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Roses dramatic gold medal win against Australia in their own Gold Coast backyard was met with wild celebrations back home.
And Thirlby reckons that the 2022 Games in Birmingham represent a really good chance to continue from the success of 2018, growing the sport of netball further on home soil.
📖 History makers
🏅 Major honour winners
🌠 Up-and-coming stars @JessThirlby has named 24 players in the 2021/22 Vitality Roses programme and seven athletes in the Roses Futures programme 🌹
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) May 11, 2021
“I think we’ve got the ability to galvanise the netball community and family,” added Thirlby.
“The challenge of repeating success is not easy for any sport, it's rarely been done by any sports team across the world, let alone teams from England, be that in the Olympics or other major competition.
“It's a huge task, and it's a great aspiration for us to have.
“For me it is certainly an ambition that we want to realise.
“What better place to start that campaign of trying to be successful consistently than in our own back backyard.”
To keep up to date with all the Vitality Roses news follow @englandnetball on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or visit the England Netball website.